Ed Chamberlin reflects on his round trip from Ayr to Musselburgh in a week where he took in the sights of Newmarket and Lingfield as well.
What a fabulous week it’s been. Sunshine, big crowds and really good racing. We went from Scottish Grand National day at Ayr to Newmarket’s Craven meeting and it was quite a contrast from 8,500 Scots and a massive party at Ayr to one for the purists at HQ.
At Ayr the champagne tents were overflowing and at Newmarket it was the parade ring that was packed. Both scenes were great to see.
If we saw a Classic winner this week it was Qabala in the Nell Gwyn ahead of the Qipco 1,000 Guineas. Roger Varian says she’ll take a good step forward and a lot went wrong in the race itself for her.
She injected much needed life into the race and it’s no surprise to see her as the 4/1 favourite at Sky Bet.
The race remains wide open, though, and after backing Just Wonderful at 50/1 last summer I’m not giving up on her yet.
In the colts’ Classic the 2,000 Guineas picture looks more muddled to me. The punters went all cold on Too Darn Hot even before he was ruled out on Saturday and it was no surprise he was confirmed a non-runner by John Gosden such was his market weakness.
Of the recent trials, I was more taken by Mohaather in the Greenham than I was Skardu in the Craven. But Ireland, and specifically Aidan O'Brien, could be the big winner in the race for the Guineas after this week.
After Newmarket it was onto All-Weather Finals day at Lingfield and what a success story this has been.
The crowds were huge and there were loads of families there, while several people came up to me and said it was their first day at the races after enjoying what they saw on ITV from Grand National day.
My job and the job of ITV is to keep these people engaged and entertained.
Horses like Kachy help in that regard. He was simply brilliant and blitzed his rivals from the moment the stalls opened.
We thought the challengers had a mountain to climb to beat Wissahickon but Matterhorn really hit the heights and if his time is anything to go by he’s one to follow.
From Lingfield it was straight to Heathrow and up to Edinburgh. It was a late night and then an early start to have a walk round Muirfield golf course, but then we had another fantastic day packed in glorious sunshine.
I arrived in a sidecar just in time (all for the theatre, I can assure you!) and we saw some excellent performances from the likes of Hollie Doyle and Saaheq, while northern stalwarts Richard Fahey and David O’Meara got on the scoreboard.
The feature, though, went to Mark Johnston and you just can’t keep Tiger Roll out of the news! His half-brother Austrian School taught his rivals a lesson in the Queen’s Cup with an easy victory.
It was a great bit of placing from Johnston as owner Dr Jim Walker had planned to come back from Hong Kong this week to see his new grandson for the first time and his trainer managed to coincide his visit with a big winner.
And this with a horse that had had more narrow misses than AP McCoy’s team in the Injured Jockeys’ Fund charity football match!
The racing roadshow goes onto Sandown next weekend and I’ll be doing a rain dance to try and get the Cyrname v Altior clash on. It looks unlikely at this stage.
We’re also on Dan Skelton watch as he closes on 200 winners for the season, while we must say well done to his mentor, Paul Nicholls, who won the 3,000th jumps race of his career in Britain this week.
After a brilliant but hectic week I think I’ll be asleep on the plane home before it takes off. See you next weekend!
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